Scientists Engineer Crops That Consume Less Water

Crops That Consume Less Water

Scientists engineered crops that consume 25 percent less water, according to a study conducted on March 6, 2018.

Most of the freshwater available is monopolized by the agriculture sector. In the past 60 years, a steady improvement has been observed in the yields from crops, however, requirement of water to produce these crops remained the same. Now, scientists have engineered crops that reduces the water consumption by 25 percent without compromising on the yield.

By closing stomata of plants partially, level of photosynthetic protein (PsbS) can be increased and water can be conserved. When stomata is open, carbon dioxide required for photosynthesis enters the plant and through transpiration, water escapes. It is observed that these plants will grow faster and will provide high yield even when water supplied is limited. The water-use-efficiency of the plants were improved by 25 percent.

Humidity, level of carbon dioxide in the plant, quality and quantity of light are the four factors that leads to the opening and closing of stomata. An increase in level of PsbS will provide a signal saying that enough amount of light energy required for photosynthesis is not available. Their hypothesis was tested on tobacco, which is a crop that can be easily modified compared to other crops.

Johannes Kromdijk, a postdoctoral researcher said, “Our results show that increased PsbS expression allows crop plants to be more conservative with water use, which we think will help to better distribute available water resources over the duration of the growing season and keep the crop more productive during dry spells.” Once this method will be used for agriculture, water consumption can be reduced to a large extent and will increase the growth of drip irrigation market, as elaborated in the drip irrigation market report published by Coherent Market Insights.

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